Worplesdon’s Ian Attoe lived his dream today when he won the English senior men’s open amateur championship by three shots on his home course.
“It’s what I gave up work for,” said Attoe, who has swapped the life of a golf club secretary to concentrate on senior golf. “You hope you can win one event in a year and it’s beyond your wildest dreams you will win the English seniors – except you do dream!”
Attoe, who has been a Worplesdon member for 40 years, had the first stirrings of the dream two years ago, when it was announced that Worplesdon and West Hill in Surrey would host this championship. “I started thinking about it and that it had to be an advantage to play on your own course,” he remembered.
He gave up work in April to start playing senior golf and it all paid off today – after three sleepless nights!
Attoe (image © Leaderboard Photography) started the final round two shots off the lead and finished three clear after scoring one-over 72 for a five-over par total.
The runner-up was Andrew Atkinson (Windermere), who scored 73 today. Sharing third place, a further shot back, were former champion Chris Reynolds (Littlestone) and David Niven (Newbury & Crookham). Meanwhile the low score of the day was provided by Phil Sewell (Castle Royle) who went round in two-under 69 to share 13th place.
The final round was, for the most part, a tight battle between the leading contenders. Tim Whittaker (Beaconsfield) set out with a two shot lead but after five holes had been caught by both Attoe and Atkinson.
After the 10th – a picturesque par three over water – Atkinson and Attoe had moved into a one-shot lead. The next four holes proved telling, for Attoe played them in one under and built up a three-shot lead.
However, it was anything but plain sailing home. Attoe topped shots on both the par five 15th and short 16th – but rescued himself on both occasions with his superb short game, salvaging respectively a birdie and a bogey.
“I looked at the scoreboard after 14 and saw I had a three-shot lead and tried to play defensively. I had a couple of quick swings, but my putting stood up,” he said.
He was certainly not defensive on the 17th, but fired a long drive into the perfect position to attack the green and narrowly missed a birdie. The 18th provided a final test when his approach rolled through the green, but again he played a lovely little pitch which finished close to the pin.
That finishing flourish was one of the highlights of the round for Attoe, together with his three birdies on par fives, which he credited to the advantage of local knowledge. And he remarked: “I wanted to play well for the members who walked round, I didn’t want to let them down.”
Now, he’s looking forward to Scottish, Welsh and British senior championships.
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